It’s hard to be a parent. That’s why Father’s Day is so important. It gives us an opportunity to thank dads who are active in their children’s lives—who accept the challenges of raising a family and reap the benefits of their children growing up in a loving environment.
Today, one out of every three children in America is living without a father in the home--about 24 million kids in this country.
Studies have shown that children without a father in the home are two to three times more likely than children with active, involved fathers to live in poverty, use drugs and engage in criminal behavior. These children are also more likely to become victims of child abuse, and experience emotional, health and education problems.
The Administration for Children and Families is working with its programs across the agency to help low-income fathers meet their commitments to their children.
Our Office of Child Support Enforcement helps create stable and healthy environments for children and parents by collaborating with federal, state, tribal and local governments to run the nation’s child support program. OCSE has launched a Family-Centered initiative to encourage child support programs around the country to set accurate support orders based upon a noncustodial parent’s ability to pay them and to link parents to job services, financial education, and co-parenting services. By removing barriers and encouraging positive parental involvement, more children will be able to count on emotional and financial support from both parents. Check out the OCSE website for more information about this initiative: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocsp
In the Office of Family Assistance, our Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood initiative has awarded 120 grants to organizations, including nonprofits that work to strengthen relationships and marriage between individuals, couples and fathers and their children. The healthy marriage grants provide services, which include counseling, financial management and conflict resolution classes. The fatherhood component promotes the economic stability of fathers through employment skills and subsidized employment, responsible parenting classes, and promoting healthy marriage.
In the Administration for Native Americans, its Strengthening Families Initative funds culturally relevant strategies to strengthen families and promote family preservation, foster child well-being, responsible parenting and healthy relationship skills. Responsible Fatherhood projects that provide education and activities to fathers to help them overcome barriers to positive involvement in their children’s lives are also supported in this program.
And finally, the Office of Community Services has collaborated with the child support office to implement the Building Assets for Fathers and Families Initative. This program extends the benefits of financial education, matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts, to parents with young children. The child support office awarded seven three-year BAFF demonstration grants that fund partnerships between child support enforcement agencies, Assets for Independence grantees, and fatherhood organizations to identify effective strategies for increasing the financial stability of children and their parents.
While ACF works hard to lift families out of poverty and into a stable and successful environment, we are also finding ways to sustain that stability and success by helping men truly become fathers in the process.